Merkel: Backstop Can Be ‘Overwritten’

Merkel has given a strong hint that the EU could be prepared to move on the backstop, telling a German press conference that the backstop will be “overwritten” if alternative solutions can be found. This doesn’t actually change the EU’s position yet – as things stand the UK would still be signing up to the backstop in the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement while the alternative arrangements would be in the non-binding political declaration. It’s still a significant softening of the EU’s rhetoric around the backstop after stonewalling the issue throughout the Tory leadership contest…

It’s good timing, the Alternative Arrangements Commission run by ProsperityUK, led by Greg Hands and Nicky Morgan, published their 268-page Alternative Arrangements Report and Protocols just yesterday. No solution for the Irish border is going to be perfect from day one but it does blow apart the fiction promulgated by May and the EU that the backstop is the only way to solve the border issue. The backstop remains by far the single biggest impediment to a sensible deal, no excuse for either sides’ negotiators not to be looking at alternative arrangements now…

Lidington Skewered Over Backstop

David Lidington’s lacklustre performance at the Despatch Box was summed up by his dithering response to this question from Mark Francois on whether it was still Government policy to “replace” the backstop, after already refusing to commit himself to leaving a customs union in response to Greg Hands. Not hard to see why Brexiteers have little faith with lifelong Europhile Lidington now supposedly leading the renegotiations…

The Behaviour of Government Ministers

Greg Hands on the peculiar behaviour of some Government ministers…

“Am genuinely confused. Apparently, members of the Conservative Government are threatening to resign if they can’t vote away the Government’s power to govern to a Labour-led cross party group of MPs.”

Juncker’s “Monster” Spreads Shameless Fake News in Spat With Greg Hands

Greg Hands’ much-shared ConHome article yesterday on the malicious motives of top EU officials towards Brexit appears to have seriously ruffled some Eurocrat feathers. European Commission boss Martin Selmayr, lovingly referred to by colleagues as “Juncker’s Monster” and “Darth Vader”, tweeted angrily this morning:

Hands had committed the heresy of, er, quoting on-the-record statements from Selmayr and Barnier’s deputy Sabine Weyand in prominent British and German media outlets. As fluent German-speaker Hands himself pointed out in response:

“There are 17 separate sources to my article, all German & UK media, all mainstream publications (Times, Welt, BBC etc), all individually linked to. So what is “false” about it? Most prominently, the interview you yourself gave to the Passauer Neue Presse.”

EU hostility to any serious level of press scrutiny is no surprise. Claiming outright “we have never said this” is straight-up fake news from the EU’s top official…

Hands Rinses Bercow

A subtle demolition of Bercow by Greg Hands:

“Mr Speaker, we all need to keep our election pledges, and that, Mr Speaker, applies whether we made those pledges one year ago or nine years ago.”

He lied…

Hands Off Over Heathrow Vote

Greg Hands has resigned from the government as it emerged there will be a whip on the Heathrow vote on Monday. Hands is a longstanding campaigner against a third runway. He tweeted:

“As the Government will be whipping the vote on Monday, this means I am resigning from the Government. It has been an honour to serve the Prime Minister (and her predecessor) for the last 7 years and I wish the PM & the Government every continuing success.”

More could follow…

Greg Hands on Don Cameroni and the Five Families

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands used a fairly punchy election night analogy when addressing CWF on Saturday:

“You know the scene at the end where Michael Corleone is holding the baby at the baptism, and he’s reading the out the name of the father and they say do you reject sin. And he’s holding the baby. That was like our Prime Minister holding the baby of our Conservative only government. While meanwhile his five main opponents are all being gunned down. Ed Miliband, gone. Ed Balls, gone. Nick Clegg, gone. We had Nigel Farage, gone. We had Vince Cable gone. Just like in the Godfather, the heads of the five families all wiped out.”

Free from the shackles of the whips office now…

There’s Lunch Money Left

Though the national debt has actually risen from 60% of GDP to 80% of GDP, the deficit is bigger than Greece’s deficit and the IMF doesn’t believe Britain is on course to close the deficit by 2020. So there is even less money left than when Liam Byrne left his note…

Cuts Baiting From Tory Whips Sends Labour MPs Round Bend

Last Tuesday’s vote for the “Charter for Budget Responsibility” saw Labour – under the direction of Balls – troop through the division lobbies with the Tories to vote for fiscal restraint. Guido hears that Tory deputy chief whip Greg Hands was greatly enjoying this rare moment of swine aviation, standing at the entrance to the “aye” lobby loudly telling Labour MPs entering “this way for The Cuts”.  Apparently the SNP teller opposite was in fits of ecstasy as various Labour MPs (particularly those from Scotland) did little to hide their anger as they stomped through. “The vast Jimmy Hoods looked tempted to deck him”, says Guido’s co-conspiratorial elected witness. 

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